Install a wireless network

Who I am
Bernard Perron
Author and references

A broadband connection brings high-speed Internet into the home. And with a wireless LAN – also called “Wi-Fi” (Wireless-Fidelity, short for “Hi-Fi”) – you can have this access on various computers distributed throughout the house, or even nearby, without cables. Moreover, with today's Wi-Fi products, sharing an Internet link is not only inexpensive and easy to use, but also secure. This guide shows how to distribute high-speed Internet access to multiple laptops or desktops and how to build a protected network.

To set up a Wi-Fi network, you need
a wireless router (top in the photo) and an adapter for each of the connected systems
- PCI card (left) for a desktop computer, PC card (right) for a laptop.

The heart of a wireless LAN is its router. As an example, we used D-Link's DI-624 AirPlus Xtreme G 802.11g. You also need a wireless adapter for each system that might connect to the network. To do this, we installed a DWL-G650 PC card on a laptop running Windows 2000 and a DWL-G520 PCI adapter on a desktop computer running Windows XP Home Edition. As for the main computer, connected to the router via an Ethernet cable, it was under the control of Windows XP professional edition.

1. Prepare for installation

You will probably need some information to properly install the router. To get them, open the Control Panel, double-click on Network Connections and then right-click on the Local Area Connection icon. Choose Properties > Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) > Properties. If the option button “Use the following IP address” is activated, your Internet access uses a static address. Write down the IP address, subnet mask and default gateway. Then click on “Obtain an IP address automatically”. Click OK to apply the changes, then click OK again to close the dialog box.

If you have an ADSL connection, you will probably need the username and password needed to connect to your service provider. If you do not know this information, look for it in the software or in the documents provided during your subscription. You may need to uninstall the PPPoE connection software given to you by your provider. To find out, consult the documentation associated with the router.

Also be sure to collect the MAC addresses of the wireless network adapters you are going to install. They are normally printed on each Wi-Fi PC card and each PCI adapter.

Note: You may find specific instructions for configuring your router on the technical support pages of your service provider or router manufacturer's site, especially if you are using ADSL.

2. Install the wireless router

Before installing the router, turn off the PC and the modem; disconnect the Ethernet cable from the PC and connect it to the WAN port of the router so that this cable unites the modem and the router. Using a second Ethernet cable, then connect the Ethernet port of your PC to one of the Ethernet ports of the router.

Connect the modem to the WAN port of the router and your PC
to a free Ethernet port on the router.

Power on the modem and wait for it to connect. Then turn on the router and the PC. After starting the system, activate the browser and browse some websites to test your Internet connection.

3. Install wireless adapters

Install a Wi-Fi adapter in each of the systems that can connect wirelessly to the router. If you use a D-Link adapter (PC card or PCI card) on a PC, first install the corresponding software, from the supplied CD, before fitting the card. Then shut down the computer, install the adapter, and restart the system. After Windows initialization, the Add Hardware Wizard should appear and automatically initiate the driver installation. If a message warns you that the driver does not have Windows Logo certification, ignore it and click Continue.

Install a PCI card in each of the desktop computers
that you want to connect to your wireless network.

Note: If your laptop includes built-in Wi-Fi, you do not need an additional PC card.

At this point, the physical installation is complete. The rest of the procedure consists of securing the wireless network that the router will administer and authorizing the wireless connection of the computers concerned.

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